Soldier of Sidon by Gene Wolfe

October 15, 2006 at 12:00 am | Posted in 3 stars, Book Reviews, Fantasy | 2 Comments
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The trouble with reading Gene Wolfe is one is never sure whose fault it is when a book doesn’t quite come off. But where most books are willing, even eager, to carefully walk the reader through what they have to offer, Gene Wolfe’s novels stand there and give you a proud, appraising look. Sometimes the challenge lies in the complexity of the story, as in the Book of the New Sun. Other times, Wolfe expects the reader to have knowledge that they may not possess. Ignorance of ancient Greece was a handicap (though not insurmountable) to enjoying the previous Latro books. This story, a sequel to the excellent previous books that essentially stands alone, is set in Egypt and may have similar requirements, although it’s quite a bit more unreasonable to expect the reader to know anything about Hellenistic Egypt’s mysticism. So what do we have here? Like the previous stories, it is a fun, swaggering sort of adventure story that is a joy to read. As always in Wolfe’s fiction, things happen that are difficult to explain, but it seems like an there is an explanation, so it’s easy to let things ride. My complaint is the ending of the book failed to provide any sort of closure. I think Wolfe intends to write another Latro book, but given his age it seems, well, not to be morbid, but a little risky to be leaving things so open. In the meantime, while this is a good book, it is down towards the bottom of Wolfe’s works and, unless an illuminating sequel proves to be forthcoming, should probably be left to Wolfe completists only.

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  1. Exactly my feelings about the book. I expected resolution, and am worried there won’t be a fourth novel. I did get lost a couple of times – did they escape from the mine slavers twice? But, like you I could give Wolfe the benefit of the doubt most times.

  2. The ending basically pissed me off. Is Wolfe ever going to finish the damned thing? Did he forget about his forgetful protagonist? Latro needs resolution! What the hell man??!!!


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